How to Get Your Husband to Help You More Around the House

How to Get Your Husband to Help You More Around the House

Here are some tips on how to get your husband to help you more around the house:

Q: My Husband and I Have a Pretty Good Relationship. We Love Each Other Very Much, but We Fight About the Division of Household Labor All the Time

We both work full-time jobs outside the home. So we thought this problem would be solved when my husband started working from home four days a week last year. It hasn’t.

It’s gotten worse. He plays video games for most of the day. And takes care of errands when he gets around to them. — If I remind him. When I ask him to take out the trash or make dinner, he gets frustrated. And accuses me of nagging. I don’t think I nag. — I want to be a good partner. He always says he does his fair share and doesn’t see why he should do more than work from home.

I’ve tried doing fewer things around the house so it wouldn’t seem like such a chore for him. But it hasn’t made any difference. I’m getting distraught and annoyed about this. And it feels like we’re not even on the same page anymore. It’s making me bitter, too. We’ve gotten to the point where he never helps around the house without me asking him repeatedly (and sometimes in a snarky way). What can we do?



A: You’re Not Nagging. He Doesn’t Want to Help

He probably feels irritated and resentful that you keep asking him to pitch in around the house. There’s a good chance he thinks you should be doing everything yourself because he’s home all day. That’s why he takes out the trash or makes dinner when he feels like it.

If you were home all day, you probably wouldn’t want to run errands. And might wish your partner to do those things for a change. It would be expected for him to feel that way — even if it’s not your preference.

The Problem Here Is That You’re Not on Equal Footing

Since your husband doesn’t think he’s pulling his weight around the house, why would he? You might say you want to be a good partner. But if he feels like he isn’t contributing much, how will that help him feel better about doing anything?

It sounds as if your husband already knows that on some level. — He says he does his fair share. Your problem is getting him to do those things in a timely way without you having to ask.

But there’s no way around asking. So instead of nagging, he hears you say, “Do this,” without explaining your reasons or offering a compromise. That makes him feel like all he has to do is tune you out and do nothing — right up until the next time you ask him again.

But there’s no way around asking. So instead of nagging, he hears you say, “Do this,” without explaining your reasons or offering a compromise. That makes him feel like all he has to do is tune you out and do nothing — right up until the next time you ask him again.

Your Goal Should Be to Help Him Realize That He Needs to Pitch in More Around the House to Make His Life Easier and Happier

 So instead of asking, prompt him by saying something like this: “Honey, I want to talk about how we’re managing our household chores and responsibilities. Can you take a break from your work and talk to me for a few minutes?”

In that conversation, say something like this: “I know it’s not easy managing our responsibilities when we each have full-time jobs outside the home. But I also want to do my fair share without becoming overwhelmed with everything here. Right now, I tend to overdo it and worry that you aren’t pulling your weight. I need your help to navigate this more easily.”

“I think maybe we can get together once a week and share our household responsibilities, so neither of us is feeling overwhelmed about it. What do you think? Would you be willing to take on more chores or change our current system so that we’re both responsible for everything equally?”

If he says yes, you two can work together to figure out a fair and effective way to share the burden. If he says no, then you two will need to decide how much of the chores you’ll each handle on your own.

In any case, make sure you approach this as a partnership, with both of you understanding that your household tasks are now 50-50. Don’t just tell him to do more without explaining why, or it will seem like he’s a team member and you’re his boss rather than equal partners.

So Try Using Those Words: “Partnership.” “Equal Responsibilities.” “50-50.”

Make it sound like you’re on equal footing and working together to make the household run well. If he’s feeling resentful right now, these words may not come quickly — but over time, they will be more important than you can imagine.

And above all else, remember that you are in this together, so don’t try to handle it all alone. He may not realize that he needs to pitch in more or what that will look like in daily life, so be ready to guide him through this process of change — and then you’ll reap the benefits together.

A Couple Can Make These Shifts Easier by Setting Aside Time to Discuss Specific Household Tasks Once a Week

Setting aside time each week makes it less likely that you’ll have to remind your husband over and over again about what needs to be done or nag him about not helping out enough around the house.

That’s easier said than done, I know, primarily if you both work full-time jobs outside the home. But if you and your husband are serious about making fundamental changes around the house, you must work together to make it happen.

To Arrange a Time to Talk at Least Once a Week

Definitely before any big holiday or event when everyone will be asking you how things are going! Let your friend know: This could get messy, so we’re meeting for dinner next week to discuss what’s working and what’s not. 

You both need to figure out a plan of action that works for you. Make sure that your husband understands how important it is for him to help more around the house, which will relieve some of your stress from doing everything yourself. You may find that once you’ve talked about it, you’re both more motivated to make it happen.

In the meantime, please do your best to stop overdoing it around the house and put yourself first (in other words, take time for yourself when you need to). This will give you something else to look forward to in life besides cleaning — and help keep things running smoothly when your husband becomes more involved in household tasks and chores.

If You Need To, Hire a Cleaning Service So That Your Home Is Always Clean and Neat

You’re not selfish for taking some time away from the house. On the contrary, if you don’t take some time for yourself, you may experience burnout (and a messy house is the least of your problems if that happens).

If he’s not pulling his weight around the house, it may take more than one or even two conversations before you start seeing results. But with patience, perseverance, and a good-natured attitude — and yes, possibly some gentle prodding along the way — you will get to a place where you and your husband feel more empowered around the house.

It’s not easy, but it can be done. And no matter how long it takes, I promise you: It will be worth every last bit of effort on both of your parts.

By Rosa Norris

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